“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God…” – 1 John 3:1 (KJV)
Love is the greatest message we can preach as Christians, and we do this not only with our words but with our actions. In the opening passage we are called sons (and daughters) of God, and this is as a result of God’s love for us. If that doesn’t excite you, it means you do not know the importance of the title; “sons of God”
It doesn’t matter what degree or title you acquire on earth (President, Governor, Doctor, Engineer, Lawyer, Entrepreneur, Author e.t.c,), none of those can compare to being called a “child of God”. It means you are an heir to God’s kingdom.
“Love” is no doubt one of the most talked about concept in our world today, and even though it has been perverted by society, every human being continues to crave love and acceptance from others. According to the golden rule, we must to unto others what we would have them do unto us (Matthew 7:12). But is that how love should be defined? Nope, at least not according to the Bible.
What then is the true definition of love and where does the very idea of love come from? You see, God didn’t have to create human beings in order to express His love, neither did He necessarily need us to have a relationship. Before creation, He existed in love and relationship as the Holy Trinity – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God the Father was never alone or lonely even before the beginning. Remember the words; “Let US make man… ” in the book of Genesis. God the Father was definitely talking to another person or persons.
It is amazing how much love God shows on us even when we have not always been deserving, but we also cannot deny the fact that there are many who do not reciprocate this great love and others who simply do not care. Just imagine how you would feel if you were to be in love with someone and the person doesn’t have the slightest feeling of affection toward you. I bet you’d be disappointed.
Throughout history, God has continually shown his love on man time and time again. Every member of the body of Christ knows that it is because of this love that we are able to call ourselves Christians today. But the big question is; do we love him back?
While i am yet to meet any Christian who openly say they don’t love God, I also know that it is one thing to ‘proclaim love’ and another to ‘show love’. To me, the former isn’t really love, it is just ‘lip service’.
Personally, I prefer to treat the word ‘Love’ as a verb – something you show with your actions rather than something you just profess with your mouth. The scriptures also affirm this in 1 John 3:18 (KJV) – “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth”. I am convinced that If we all see it this way, there would be far less deceit and heartbreak in the world today.
There is no gain saying that we live a world of betrayal – even among family members. There is little room for trust in our society today and as human beings, this has a direct effect on our ability to love. It is an established fact that we naturally tend to show more love to those whom we can trust more. This is to a large degree due to the fact that people are being deceived everyday in the name of love.
How many times have we seen couples who were engaged and had finalize plans to get married, only for one party to call off the marriage without any good reason – in most cases, after they must have indulged in premarital sex (fornication).
Even those who are married go through the heartbreaking experience of their partner cheating on them with another person (adultery). It is no surprise that ‘unfaithfulness’ and ‘infidelity’ are major causes of divorce in our society today, and these are people who profess love to each other and even exchanged marital vows.
What about internet fraudsters who specialize in finding people on dating sites and through the use of dubiously crafted “love formats” and the mastery of “sweet talking”, succeed in scamming their unsuspecting victims of huge amount of money.
My point is, the concept of love is often misrepresented. there are many who when they profess love, they do so for their own selfish interest and this is a contradiction to the character of love. Love is supposed to be selfless – when you love someone, it is not just about you but also the other person. In a lot of cases, love would require that we make sacrifices of some sort at different stages.
John 3:16 (KJV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Now with all the “false love” being peddled in our world today, can there be any such thing as ‘the perfect love’? Yes there is – the love of God. Jesus came into the world to die, thus offering himself as a sacrificial lamb for our sins. He did this out of love. For It takes the rarest and truest of love for anyone to lay down his life for another, not to talk of the whole of humanity. More over, man could not be able to reach the standard of attaining God’s holy Kingdom because of sin, and God had to give us a route.
More so, when we take into consideration that many of the people for whom Christ laid down his life at that time, never had any affection towards him and even up to this present day, there are many who belittle the significance of the cross, it shows you how loving God is. He created the universe, we are his Children and I don’t know of any parent who doesn’t love their child. God our father continues to love us unconditionally regardless of our shortcomings.
Romans 5:8 (ESV)
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
This fatherly love was perfectly summed up by Jesus during one of his sermons;
“Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” –
Matthew 7:9-11 (KJV)
Let us look at the origin of love and how God has been showing his love on mankind since creation.
1 John 4:16 (ESV)
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. GOD IS LOVE and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
Love originated from God himself. There are several verses in the scripture where God is referred to as “Love”. It is because of his love that we enjoy the benefits of his grace today. If we understand the nature of God, we wouldn’t be surprised as to why he continues to love man even after our fall.
According to John Hagee, “God doesn’t try to love us, he simply doesn’t have a choice”. This is so because that is his very nature. That is who he is and he can’t help it. You simply can’t go against your nature.
The first proof of God’s love is found at the very beginning of human creation, with the very words; “let us make man in our image and likeness”. That statement gave birth to the existence of humanity. He wasn’t compelled to give us life but he did it any way.
After the creation of the first man, God didn’t just leave him to wander and cater for himself, instead he made Adam a beautiful home and provided him with everything he needed. Adam didn’t have to labour in order to eat or drink, The Garden of Eden had by far more than enough food and water to sustain Adam. Now if that isn’t love, what is it?
Thousands of years after Adam, God in keeping to his promise to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob delivered the Children of Israel out of slavery in the land of Egypt and eventually led them safely to the “Promised Land”, despite all their iniquities along the road. At one point he even fed them with manna and quails when they were still in the wilderness. If that isn’t love, what is it?
Fast forward to decades later, just when one would have thought that we have seen the pinnacle of God’s love, in a remarkable turn of event that would forever shape the history of mankind, he comes down into the world and paid the ultimate price for our sins through his son Jesus of Nazareth.
Even if you choose to overlook the many other instances showing the love of God on humanity, you surely cannot ignore the fact that he came down, lived in humility amongst us, suffered and died a cruel death in other to save us from certain damnation.
So with all the love that God has continuously showered on mankind over the centuries, how can we not love him back? Perhaps, we are yet to fully grasp the importance of loving God.
Some might ask; “is it necessary that we love God?” The answer is ‘YES’.
How do I know for sure?
First in a logical sense, No perfect love affair is one-sided and secondly, Jesus himself affirms this in the gospel.
“A certain Lawyer stood up and asked him; “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus replied him saying, “what is written in the Law?”
The lawyer quoted from the Ten Commandments: “ ”You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself…””
Jesus replied to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live”” – (Luke 10:25-28).
I also should point out that it is impossible for us to truly worship God if we don’t condition our heart to love.
1 John 4:8 (ESV)
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Two things are revealed here; firstly, we can not enter God’s kingdom without loving him and secondly, we cannot claim to love God if we do not love the people around us.
Have you ever told someone that you love them and they respond by asking you to prove it? I have, and i think this is a completely legitimate request to make in a world where people say one thing and do the opposite. So the question should turn from “is it necessary to love God?” to “how can we prove our love for God?”
Well, why don’t we take a look at what the scriptures say about that.
Deuteronomy 7:9 (ESV)
“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations”
1 John 5:3 (KJV)
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”
John 14:21 (KJV)
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
John 14:15 (KJV)
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
So there you have it folks! Throughout the scriptures, keeping God’s law and commands is posited as the one true proof of our love for him. In case, you don’t quite get which laws and commands we are instructed to keep, let me do a comprehensive breakdown.
According to the Old Testament and the Jewish Torah, God gave the Israelites 613 laws through Moses at Mount Sinai – these are known as ‘the mosaic law’.
But as time went by, other great servants of God from different generations came along and made it lighter for the people. David reduced it to 15 laws, The Prophet Isaiah reduced them to 11, Micah reduced them to 3, namely – “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before your God.”
When Jesus came, he sized it down to just two, both of which are based on one concept – “LOVE”
(1) Love God with all your heart, soul and mind.
(2) Love your neighbors as yourself.
Now it is important to note that contrary to accusations by several other worldviews today, Jesus’ law of Love is by no means disregarding or abolishing Moses’s laws but rather it is the very essence of the laws of Moses. Romans 10:4 puts it perfectly – “Christ is the culmination of the law”
Jesus himself clarified this to the Pharisees who were having the same thought at the time.
Matthew 5:17 (KJV) –
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”
The laws might have been interpreted to different generations in different ways according to the social behavioural pattern and culture of the people, but in the end, it all boils down to our love for God and our fellow human beings.
I hope to do a more detailed piece focusing on the ‘mosaic laws’ and how modern day Christians should translate them in order to avoid certain confusions that might arise, but for now the focus is (as it rightly should) on the bigger picture which is ‘love’.
Permit me to quickly revisit Jesus’ words to the Lawyer; this time from the account of Matthew:
Matthew 22:37-40 (KJV)
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Notice the last sentence in the above passage – “On these two commandments hang all the law.”
It is all about love, it has always and will always be about love because humanity was created in the image and likeness of God and the nature of God is love.
Our love for God is shown by our actions, i:e the love of God is active and practical, evident in how we live our lives. We are to keep the instructions of God at heart, and ensure that they are a part of our lives. It is hypocrisy to say you love God but live in a manner that is totally contrary to his will.
Truly, love is the greatest principle we can ever live by. If every individual abide by this principle, the world would no doubt be a better place. More so, in a world where the concept of love has been either selfishly twisted or diminished, we as Christians have an obligation to be champions of the perfect love of Christ.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (GNB)
“And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Let us love God with everything we have got and if we are asked to explain the reason for this love; simple! “We love him, because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19
PRAYER: Loving Father, we are eternally grateful for the unconditional love that you have shown us over the years. You are truly merciful and just, as was proven by the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.
Lord God, we long to reciprocate that love by obeying each and everyone of your commands, Chief of which is loving you and showing love to everyone around us regardless of their religion, race, tribe or ethnicity. Also help us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us for proclaiming the good news, AMEN